by Caroline Johnson

The sun has not set on the golf course.
We are watching The Titanic. Kate Winslet
has almost thrown herself into the Atlantic’s
icy waters. I like Kate Winslet. She is pretty
and a mother. I am tall and I am not a mother.
My dad reaches over his wheelchair, fumbling
for the remote. “What are you doing, Dad?”
He says he’s looking for his glasses, another
thing for me “to bitch about.”

Mom thinks Kate Winslet is her mother. Mom thinks
this is not her house. Mom is happy in her delirium.
“Are you OK, Bob?” she asks. “I love you.”

I give my father his electric toothbrush and assist
him to the toilet. I cook them frozen pizza and clean
after them. I wonder if they will be in a nursing home.
“I’ll be in there someday,” my dad says.

The Titanic is sinking. Leonardo DiCaprio is trying to save
Kate Winslet. I like Leonardo DiCaprio. At this moment,
I do not like my father. At this moment, I hope
things will change.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s lips are turning blue. My mother’s arms
are scaly and dry. Later, I put lotion on her arms.
I put lotion that smells like coffee on my father’s legs,
bright with red sores. I tuck them into bed
and spread the fat green comforter over them.
Mom leans up with her dentureless mouth and smiles
a wide beam. “Thank you for being so nice,” she says.
I kiss them on the cheek. My father says good-bye
and looks up with a blank stare, grabbing the comforter.

I go out to my black Honda. The sun is setting on the golf course.
All the golfers are finished, and there is only the red flag
blowing on the 18th hole, like a ghost.

Caroline Johnson has published two chapbooks. In 2012 she won 1st Place in the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Poetry Contest, and has published poetry in DuPage Valley Review, Prairie Light Review, Chicago Tribune, New Scriptor and Rambunctious Review. She works as an English teacher at two community colleges.